Are You Making These Top 3 ADA Mistakes?
You’ve spent days, weeks, or months creating the perfect website, email, media campaign – you name it. But is it really perfect for everyone?
When it comes to identifying and removing friction in the customer experience, there’s one area you absolutely cannot overlook in the digital realm: ADA compliance. The consequences range from alienating customers (or missing them entirely) to owing government-mandated payouts.
ADA compliance refers to the Americans with Disabilities Act Standards for Accessible Design stating that all electronic and information technology must be accessible to people with disabilities. Aside from the fact that non-compliance means neglecting those with disabilities, it also means potential liability. A lawsuit could be filed against your brand if people with disabilities cannot access or use your site, regardless of best intentions. And by “could”, we mean they have been in droves. With an increase in ADA accessibility lawsuits over non-compliant websites and emails, as well as a dramatic increase in digital use during COVID, now is the time to make sure every digital channel works for everyone.
So, going back to that perfect digital *fill in the blank*. Here are three of the most common ADA mistakes to look out for and, more importantly, how to fix them for a more accessible, frictionless, and customer-centric design:
1. Color Contrast is Too Low
Low color contrast issues affect users with low visibility, and it is easily noticeable without any software tests. Users with low vision, which is typically the largest group among the disabled population, cannot discern typography at lower contrast levels. This is a common mistake typically seen on websites and apps where text does not stand out enough from its background. Think: dark grey text on light grey background or some other subtle combination. In order for users to easily read your content, the color contrast must be ‘dialed up’ for a more overt difference in color. It is easily fixed by choosing more contrasting color combinations for text.
2. Missing ALT Text
The next most common ADA violation we see is missing ALT text for images. ALT text, found inside hypertext markup language (HTML) files, are invisible descriptions of images which are read aloud to blind users on a screen reader. Adding ALT text allows authors to include images, while still providing contextual content in an alternative text-based format. It is easily fixed by reviewing each page and adding in appropriate HTML code. This will go a long way in helping non-sighted users perceive the information you hope to convey.
3. Heading and Structure Problems
Lastly, a common, easy-to-fix problem is when web pages have poor headings and structure. This causes problems with screen readers that rigidly see H1, H2, and H3 as definitive sequential orders, not just larger headings. Sometimes page authors prefer the visual style of a lower heading and decide to use it for their paragraph headings. So if an H2 looks better to that page author than an H1, they might get swapped. If that happens, the content can get out of whack to the point where screen readers can’t make sense of it. This is easily fixed by ensuring styling changes are made to cascading style sheets (CSS) instead of heading structures, so that the heading structure integrity is maintained.
One last note: ADA compliance isn’t a pass-fail test. Rather, it operates on a spectrum; a website or email can be deemed more compliant or less compliant. The more compliant a website or email is, the lower risk there is for a demand letter, lawsuit, or payout. Due to the fluid nature of digital content, periodic updates, and evolving ADA guidelines, it is best to consider ADA compliance as necessary ongoing maintenance.
To learn more about how our UX capabilities can help you remove friction and increase digital accessibility, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.